Ms. Khar, if appointed, will become the first female to fill the position in Pakistan’s history and will take the reins just ahead of crucial peace talks with India in Delhi next month.
The 34-year-old comes from a Punjabi political family and is a member of the National Assembly from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party. In February, she became State Minister for Foreign Affairs, a junior minister position.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s former foreign minister, stepped down later that month and since then the top position has remained vacant. Ms. Khar has been acting head of the ministry.
It’s been a rapid rise for Ms. Khar, who has a postgraduate degree in hospitality management from the University of Massachusetts and owns a popular restaurant in the grounds of the Lahore Polo Club. She entered politics in 2002.
The big question mark over Ms. Khar is whether she’ll be able to chart her own course and withstand pressure from Pakistan’s powerful armed forces. The military has traditionally held sway over foreign affairs and are generally more hawkish about relations with India than civilian politicians.
Ms. Khar, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal this month, said Pakistan’s civilian government was starting to take a more active role in areas previously dominated by the army. “There’s a real change in Pakistan for who’s responsible for what,” she said. “But it’ll happen in an evolutionary way, not a revolutionary way.”
Ms. Khar also serves as state minister for economic affairs, a role she continued since taking up her position at the foreign ministry. In that position she has been deeply involved with how foreign aid is channeled to Pakistan.
She became close to Richard Holbrooke, the senior U.S. diplomat who passed away in December. Mr. Holbrooke began a push for more U.S. aid to flow through Pakistan’s government rather than foreign contractors.
Ms. Khar has been a champion of this approach, which she says will help develop Pakistani institutions rather than creating profits for foreign contractors. “We’re not going to receive U.S. aid forever,” she said in the interview.